Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to see so many friends of Australia and friends of Indonesia here at this important event to honour the efforts of outstanding Indonesian students who are being awarded Australia Award prizes.
I particularly acknowledge the family of Allison Sudradjat – Simone, her sister; her daughters, Yasmin and Jamila; and baby Wyatt – and also the Soesastro family – Albert, who is a dear friend, we’ve got to know each other very well through these award ceremonies over time.
Also the representatives of the Indonesian Embassy, the Chargé, and of our Embassy in Jakarta, Ambassador Paul Grigson, and all those who support the strengthening relationship between Australia and Indonesia. The fact there is so many people here certainly gives support to the evidence of this strong relationship.
I’m also very pleased to see the recipients of Australian Government scholarships here, recipients of Indonesian Government scholarships and also the recipients of our New Colombo Plan overseas study awards.
Allison was an outstanding diplomat, a humanitarian, an aid worker, whose presence and connections with Indonesia are still felt today.
Hadi was a towering intellect, a significant influence in Indonesian economics, and likewise had a deep connection with Australia.
And we honour their legacy through these awards.
What is important though is that we are recognising the next generation of young Indonesians and young Australians who will be the leaders of the future that will continue the engagement between our two countries.
The recent State Visit of President Widodo was an opportunity for us to reflect on the diversity and the strength of our bilateral relationship.
And the Prime Minister’s visit and my visit during the Indian Ocean Rim Association meetings was yet another opportunity for us to demonstrate the bonds that ties us so closely together.
During the President’s visit I was pleased to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on further Maritime Cooperation, and of course we’re focusing very much on the conclusion of an Indonesian-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, bringing our economies, our trade, our investment, our business links even closer together.
We are working to combat common challenges in our region.
We are cooperating across so many levels of government and business.
But I always believe it is the people-to-people links that make a relationship so special, and I must pay tribute to Ambassador Grigson for focussing so much on the connections between people across Indonesian society, across communities in Australia – whether it be in the arts, whether it be in fashion, whether it be in media, in journalism, as well as the more traditional areas of defence and security and law enforcement and economic cooperation.
The people-to-people links will be the foundation of a relationship that will endure.
I’m personally very grateful to the Indonesian Government for being so prepared to work with us when we established the New Colombo Plan back in 2014. It was a new idea, the original Colombo Plan but in reverse, sending young Australians into our region to live and study and undertake work experience in countries throughout the Indo Pacific, and Indonesia came on board with our pilot program in 2014 immediately.
And of course, today it is now one of the most popular destinations for New Colombo Plan students – to Indonesia – and I think by the end of this year 3,200 Australian students will have lived, studied and undertaken some kind of internship or work experience in Indonesia under the New Colombo Plan.
And that’s all about ensuring that their generation of Australians has a much deeper understanding and connection with our closest and most important neighbour.
The Australia Awards, of course, have seen about 4,000 recipients over the last decade and at the Masters level and PhD level we’re absolutely delighted that so many Indonesian students have had the opportunity to study at our institutions here in Australia.
In important areas like education and health and politics and governance we’ve seen Indonesian students taking up these opportunities and they are ambassadors for our country when they return to Indonesia, as much as they are ambassadors for Indonesia during their time here.
I’m also delighted that we’re extending our diplomatic footprint in Indonesia, again a recognition of the importance and the value we place on this relationship.
As the Ambassador will attest, Jakarta is already the largest mission we have overseas in terms of sheer numbers, the size of our Embassy and this brand new eco-friendly building in the heart of Jakarta is our largest Embassy.
We have now announced a new Consulate-General in Surabaya, along with the existing Consulates in Makassar and in Bali.
So this is an important relationship and I can think of no better investment to ensure that this is a lasting, constructive, productive commitment to each other’s peace and prosperity than by investing in our young people.
It is with great pleasure that I be here this afternoon for the Australia Awards prizes to six outstanding Indonesian scholars.
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